57. Special Education

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Emma felt really bad when someone from her daughter Jessica's school informed her that Jessica needed special education services. Emma felt like she had failed as a mother. It was true that Jessica was always delayed when it came to learning to talk and walk. Emma just thought that her child was different. Every child develops at its own rate. Jessica was five years old now, but still was not speaking in complete sentences. Jessica would not be attending a regular kindergarten in a regular school. Instead, she would be attending kindergarten in a special education school.

While this bothered Emma at first, she soon learned to appreciate the school. Jessica had a specialized learning plan called an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. This plan set up specific goals for Jessica, like learning how to feed herself. Jessica also received a lot of individual attention. Instead of her being in a classroom with 20 students, there were only 8 students in her class. All of these students also were delayed like Jessica. In addition, the class had two teacher's assistants to help the classroom teacher.

The special education school also scheduled speech therapy sessions for Jessica. Once a day a specialist would come in and work with Jessica to help her practice learning how to move her mouth and tongue and ask for what she needed and wanted. An occupational therapist helped Jessica learn to feed herself and other age appropriate self-sufficiency skills. A physical therapist also came in to help Jessica.

Emma may have been embarrassed at first that her daughter was in a special education school, but after a year, Emma realized it was the best thing for her. While Jessica still was a little behind other kids of her age, at the end of kindergarten, she was able to attend a non-special education school.

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